Insane Clown Posse
Interview with Violent J
By David Friedman
The first part of this interview is printed in Murder Dog vol 11 #3

ICP always does something cool for the final track on each album. How did you close the "Hell’s Pit" album?

There’s a 15-minute song at the end. So that’s pretty cool. But it’s the wicked shit. It’s not like the violins and the strings and all of that. The whole record remains true to the wicked shit. There ain’t no guest rappers, there ain’t no mention of the word Juggalo. It’s just me and Shaggy like it was in the ‘Carnival of Carnage’ days. There’s a fresh DVD that comes with the album that’s a 22-minute long video we shot out in L.A. It’s a 3-D video. It’s devastating. And that’s like a mini horror movie. For the first time, you don’t just hear about us cutting heads off. You can see it too.

On many of your past albums, you talked about topics involving horror and murder. What drew you to this dark subject matter?

I believe that back in the day what drew us to it was probably anger and finding a release. Listening to Esham’s old shit and the old Geto Boys, that shit was dope. I knew that the people in the car next to me at the red light weren’t listening to that. I knew they wouldn’t fuck with that shit. The wicked shit is for people that are pissed off, people that are mad. And that’s what I got out of it. That’s why we had to get back in that frame of mind for this record because, honestly, I’m not that pissed off no more. How would we sound, me and Shaggy, running around complaining the injustices that life has given to us? That’s not the case. When we started, that was the case. But we found a way to be happy. We’ve got nothing but love from our fans. There’s so much love that it’s hard to walk around pissed off. But just returning to that state of mind for this record, forgetting about the Juggalos and the clown love, I realized that it was mostly anger that made us love the horror elements of the music. Even gangsta rap is cool to some extent. But nobody’s rapping about monsters and Frankensteins in their lyrics. It’s the uncool. It’s like if somebody does that kind of rap, ‘Oh, they’re on something else.’ That’s how it’s looked at by the rest of the world. But to the people that do like this kind of rap, it’s extra creative.

Will you eventually re-release your book, "Behind The Paint," with additional chapters telling stories that happened since it came out? Or will you write a second book?

I don’t know if I’ll have enough to tell of interesting shit to do another book one day. I mean, I’m sure I would. But it would have to play out. For right now, I think our story was the Joker Cards. That’s the book basically. One day, I’d like to write another book if we keeping doing shit that’s dope to tell about.

The book sold well and fans seemed to dig it. What was that like for you?

It was really weird because after I wrote it, I didn’t read it. I’m a big time pothead, so a lot of what I wrote I forgot that I told people about. To this day, man, I’ll be with friends or talking to Juggalos and I tell them a story and they already know it. That’s the truth. Everybody know all my stories now, unless they happened in the last couple of years. That’s what’s weird about the book for me. I’ll be like, ‘Are you sure I wrote about that in the book?’ And they’ll be like, ‘Yeah.’ And I’ll be like, ‘Damn. I don’t even remember that.’ But I guess I told all kinds of shit, man. For me it’s hard to pick it up and read it cover to cover now because it’s a long ass motherfucker. Plus, I already know the endings to all the stories.

What’s the deal with the new labels that your manager, Alex Abbiss, has started – Ax & Smash Records and UMZ Entertainment?

Psychopathic Records is pretty much molded into what it’s gonna be. But Alex still wants to grow and try new things. So he opened up a couple labels, Ax & Smash and UMZ. That’s basically to do non-Juggalo affiliated things. So many people have got a big Hatchet Man tattooed on their back or something. And then if we turned around and started putting commercial acts out on Psychopathic, it would be a huge letdown. People that don’t even know what the Hatchet’s about, we can’t do that. If something comes out on Psychopathic, you’ll know that that’s got our approval. Esham’s on Psychopathic. Zug Izland’s on Ax & Smash.

I just spoke with Esham’s brother, James H. Smith, about a week ago. Now that he’s back in the picture, what’s your relationship with him and how much impact will James have?

Shit, I’m with Esham every day. We hang out as close personal friends. His brother getting out, that was the shit. I’ve known his brother forever too. His brother don’t come around much right now, but he’s still getting used to life on the outside. But he comes around to the shows and stuff and it’s always good to see James. He comes to the studio with us. I have my personal beliefs. I think he probably might be still on probation or parole or whatever. And he probably don’t like to come out with us at night because all we pretty much do is drink and smoke. So I think he might not want to come around with us when we’re doing all of that. But he comes around in the daytime and hangs with us at the studio and all of that.

Is Esham working on a new album?

Esham’s working on a bomb-ass record. I like his record because his new shit don’t have nobody on it and he did the whole thing himself. ‘Acid Rain’ and everything, that was cool and ‘Repentance’ was cool. But it wasn’t the Esham that people were used to. There were so many other people involved in his projects, but this one he’s doing all by himself. He’s doing all the music by himself and there’s no special guests on his record. That’s pretty fresh. Plus, he’s talking about doing another Natas record, which is the shit too.

James was telling me that we can expect Natas to get back together. Is Reel Life Productions going to reform under Psychopathic and is Mastamind going to reunite with Esham and TNT to be part of the project?

We haven’t talked anything about that, but that would be the shit. That would be awesome. We haven’t talked about it or had any meetings with Mastamind or anything like that. But of course they’re gonna get back together one time soon. Whether it’s through Psychopathic, Reel Life or whoever, they’re gonna do another record. They’re not done. They just took some time off.

I know you were always into Esham’s music, but were you also a fan of the Natas albums early on?

I wasn’t into the Natas as much. Because when Esham came out with the ‘Judgement Days’ and the ‘Boomin Words From Hell’ and the ‘Homey Don’t Play,’ he scared the hell out of me. Everybody was wondering, ‘Is he really like that or is he not really like that?’ But then when he came out with Natas, it showed that he had homies. It showed that he had friends. And it just took some of the mystique away for me. But it wasn’t like that for everybody else – just for me. I’ve told him that. It took away a little bit of the mystique and showed that he had homies too. I’m sure ICP did the same thing when we came out with Twiztid and all of that. There are people that probably used to listen to our old shit and wondered all those things.

Going back to UMZ Entertainment, that’s the label that signed MC Breed and released his latest album on Aug. 24. It’s interesting because Breed had been working with D12’s Proof and now he’s on UMZ. Will he be working with ICP?

That’s my boy. He’s on UMZ. I see him from now and again. He lives downtown now. He was at the Gathering with us. It’s just a business relationship that turned friends. We’re not doing anything with him in the future that we know of as far as tours or anything like that. He’s just doing his thing. His record is a great record.

What are you listening to these days?

I’ll be totally honest with you Dave. I don’t really listen to nothing except for the shit we’re working on. And it’s more and more like that as my life goes on. As I get older, I really ain’t checking nothing out. Even when I pop a CD out and I’m looking for another CD and the radio’s on, man, I get sick. Everything sounds like it sucks to me. And that might be an old man talking. I don’t know what that is. But everything sounds like it sucks. Shit really seems like it’s going backwards. There ain’t nothing out there that’s catching my ear. For the last year, I really fell out of the loop because we did the ‘Hell’s Pit,’ we did the Rydas album, we did the Lotus album. We really buried ourselves in the studio this last year.

Few fans could probably see you working on a song with Eminem any time soon, but how about doing a song with Kid Rock?

I doubt it. I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but I doubt it. I doubt either one. Eminem, for sure, I doubt. What would Eminem have to gain by fucking with us? Somebody of that stature, somebody that sells 10 million records. We’re an underground, wicked shit group. We are the masters of what we do. I love how we fit into this mix. I used to be unhappy with it for some reason. I used to want to be where Eminem was. But for the last couple years, man, after the ‘Shangri-La’ and the sixth and we wrote the book, I had a chance to reflect on everything and I love where we’re at. And I know that we’re not going anywhere. I know that the Juggalos aren’t going anywhere and I love where we stand in the music industry. For us to be worrying about Kid Rock and Eminem and what other rappers are doing, we really don’t. We really kind of live our own world out here. And that’s for real. You don’t see us at other rappers’ shows, hanging out backstage and trying to get down with this guy and this guy. That really ain’t our style. We’re veterans in this muthafucka, dog.

Is The R.O.C. going to be part of the Samhein Witch Killaz project with Twiztid?

That’s a Twiztid question. I know he’s not signed to Psychopathic or anything like that. And if he was gonna do a Samhein Witch Killaz, we’d have to do some sort of paperwork just to get the record out. And we haven’t done any of that. I don’t think Twiztid has begun working on that yet.

Is Shaggy 2 Dope still going to put out a solo album?

Yeah. Shaggy’s got a solo album that’s coming out. But we’re going out on the ‘Hell’s Pit’ tour for a year. We’re going to Australia again, we’re going back to Europe and we’re going across the United States twice. Really, that’s all we’re focused on. I’m having a baby, Shaggy’s got three kids and we know that our time is ticking away before we hit the road and have to promote this record with everything that we’ve got. So everybody’s been taking time off and getting ready.

What do you hope fans get out of the "Hell’s Pit" album when they pick it up at stores nationwide?

Out of either this or ‘Shangri-La,’ I hope the sixth will have made more people happy than it didn’t. I want to come through for everybody. I want to come through for the lovers of the wicked shit. I want to come through for the people who love what ICP has stretched out to. I want to come through for everybody with the sixth. And either ‘Shangri-La’ or ‘Hell’s Pit,’ I hope people are satisfied. And not for 2004, but forever. You know, this is the ending of our story. The sixth Joker’s Card is the ending of our story and I want that to last forever. This ain’t the current single and all of that shit. This is more like a story piece. This is more like the last chapter of the book. And I’m not really concerned about the new single and ‘We’ve got this hot producer on it.’ People know what to expect from us. This is the wicked shit.

Will there ever be another ICP album after "Hell’s Pit?"

I don’t know at this point. But ICP will be together forever. We’ll always do the Gatherings. We’ll always do Hallowicked. And I’m sure we’ll make music together.


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